Awake the mind’s hopeless so At a quarter to six I rise And run 2 or 3 miles in The pristine air of a dark And windy winter morning With a light rain falling And no sound but the pad Of my sneakers on the asphalt And the calls of the owls in The cypress trees on Mesa Road
And when I get back you’re Still asleep under the warm covers Because love is here to stay It’s another day and we’re both still alive ~Tom Clark – “Every Day” from Light & Shade: New and Selected Poems.
How joyful to be together, alone as when we first were joined in our little house by the river long ago, except that now we know
each other, as we did not then; and now instead of two stories fumbling to meet, we belong to one story that the two, joining, made. And now
we touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves: how joyful to feel the heart quake
at the sight of a grandmother, old friend in the morning light, beautiful in her blue robe! ~Wendell Berry “The Blue Robe” from New Collected Poem
These winter mornings – waking early to part from your warm side, leaving behind my soft imprint, I wrap up in my robe to walk the gravel drive to deliver a letter to our mailbox.
Our hilltop farm lies silent amid fallow fields, moon shadows broad across my path star sparks overhead with orange paint beginning to lick awake the eastern mountain peaks.
I walk noiselessly; step out on the road then turn ~ startled as a flashlight approaches.
A walker and her dog illuminate me in my dawn disarray like a deer in headlights: my ruffled hair, my sleep-lined face. It is a grandma-caught-in-her-bathrobe surprise at sunrise and I’m simply glad to be alive.
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Now, newborn, in wide-eyed wonder he gazes up at his creation. His hand that hurled the world holds tight his mother’s finger. Holy light spills across her face and she weeps silent wondering tears to know she holds the One who has so long held her. ~Joan Rae Mills from “Mary”in Light Upon Light
Now burn, new born to the world, Doubled-naturèd name, The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame, Mid-numbered he in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came; Kind, but royally reclaiming his own; A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fíre hard-hurled.
Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east… ~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79 (Zechariah’s Song)
It never fails to surprise and amaze: the dawning seems to come from nowhere.
There is bleak dark, then a hint of light over the foothills in a long thin line, followed by the appearance of subtle dawn shadows as if the night needs to cling to the ground a little while longer, not wanting to relent and let us go.
Then color appears, erasing all doubt: the hills begin to glow orange along their crest, as if a flame is ignited and is spreading down a wick. Ultimately the explosion of Light occurs, spreading the orange pink palette unto the clouds above, climbing high to bathe the glaciers of Mount Baker and onto the peaks of the Twin Sisters.
~Dayspring to our dimness~
From dark to light, ordinary to extraordinary. This gift is from the tender mercy of our God, who has become the Light of a new Day, guiding our feet on the pathway of peace.
We no longer need to stumble about in the shadows. He comes to light our darkness.
Merry Christmas today to all my Barnstorming readers and visitors!
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:5
Sleeping child, I wonder, have you a dream to share? May I see the things you see as you slumber there? I dream a wind that speaks, like music as it blows As if it were the breath of everything that grows.
I dream a flock of birds flying through the night Like silent stars on wings of everlasting light. I dream a flowing river, deep as a thousand years, Its fish are frozen sorrow, its water bitter tears.
I dream a tree so green, branches wide and long, And ev’ry leaf and ev’ry voice a song. I dream of a babe who sleeps, a life that’s just begun. A word that waits to be spoken. The promise of a world to come. ~Charles Bennett “Sleeping Child”
Oh little child it’s Christmas night And the sky is filled with glorious light Lay your soft head so gently down It’s Christmas night in Bethlehem town.
Chorus: Alleluia the angels sing Alleluia to the king Alleluia the angels sing Alleluia to the king.
Sleep while the shepherds find their way As they kneel before you in the golden hay For they have brought you a woolly lamb On Christmas night in Bethlehem.
Sleep till you wake at the break of day With the sun’s first dawning ray You are the babe, who’ll wear the crown On Christmas morn in Bethlehem town.
The end of all things is at hand. We all Stand in the balance trembling as we stand; Or if not trembling, tottering to a fall. The end of all things is at hand.
O hearts of men, covet the unending land! O hearts of men, covet the musical, Sweet, never-ending waters of that strand!
While Earth shows poor, a slippery rolling ball, And Hell looms vast, a gulf unplumbed, unspanned, And Heaven flings wide its gates to great and small, The end of all things is at hand. ~Christina Rossetti “Sunday Before Advent”
Dawn was defeating now the last hours sung by night, which fled before it. And far away I recognized the tremblings of the sea. Alone, we walked along the open plain, as though, returning to a path we’d lost, our steps, until we came to that, were vain. Then, at a place in shadow where the dew still fought against the sun and, cooled by breeze, had scarcely yet been sent out into vapor, my master placed the palms of both his hands, spread wide, lightly and gently on the tender grass. And I, aware of what his purpose was, offered my tear-stained cheeks to meet his touch. At which, he made once more entirely clean the color that the dark of Hell had hidden. ~Dante from The Divine Comedy, II Purgatorio,Canto 1 lines 115−29
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4: 6
God brings forth Light through His Word, not once but at least three times:
In the beginning, He creates the sun and the moon to penetrate and illuminate the creation of our hearts and our souls.
In the stable He comes to light the world from below as well as from above so our darkened hearts and souls could be saved from self-destruction.
In the tomb, He rolls back the stone, allowing the sun to penetrate the ultimate night – raising His Son from the dead, in an ultimate defeat of darkness.
He flings open the gates of heaven to the likes of me and in response, I fling my heart through, following the Light.
Showered with the cleansing dew of His light, I am lit by the glory of God reflected in the many faces of Jesus: as vulnerable newborn, child teacher, working carpenter, healer, itinerant preacher, unjustly condemned, dying and dead, raised and ascended Son of God.
Let the dark days come as they certainly will. They cannot overwhelm my heart now, as I am lit from within, cleansed inside and out, no matter how deep the darkness that oppresses on the outside.
I know His promise. I know His face. He knows I know.
Wild geese are flocking and calling in pure golden air, Glory like that which painters long ago Spread as a background for some little hermit Beside his cave, giving his cloak away, Or for some martyr stretching out On her expected rack. A few black cedars grow nearby And there’s a donkey grazing.
Small craftsmen, steeped in anonymity like bees, Gilded their wooden panels, leaving fame to chance, Like the maker of this wing-flooded golden sky, Who forgives all our ignorance Both of his nature and of his very name, Freely accepting our one heedless glance. ~Anne Porter, “A November Sunrise” from An Altogether Different Language.
My need for forgiveness is continually overwhelmed by God’s capacity to forgive: I mess up so frequently, it is as natural as breathing to me.
I tend to forget His provision — God’s grace cleans up after me.
May I never forget His name, see the beauty He created and acknowledge His capacity for loving the unlovable.
How late I came to love you, O Beauty so ancient and so fresh, how late I came to love you.
You were within me, yet I had gone outside to seek you.
Unlovely myself, I rushed toward all those lovely things you had made. And always you were with me. I was not with you.
All those beauties kept me far from you – although they would not have existed at all unless they had their being in you.
You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness.
You sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness.
You shed your Fragrance, and I drew in my breath and I pant for you, I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with longing. ~St. Augustine in Confessions
God spoke in His Word but I didn’t listen. God fed me but I chose junk food. God showed me beauty but I couldn’t see Him. God smelled like the finest rose but I turned away. God touched me but I was numb.
So He sent His Son as Word and food, beauty and fragrance, sparkling and blazing, reaching out broken hands so I would know my hunger and thirst is only and always for Him alone.
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After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth… The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her… In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible. ~Elizabeth George Speare from The Witch of Blackbird Pond
On this early morning gray clouds lie heavy and unrelenting hovering low over the eastern hills, when a moment’s light snuck out from under the covers throwing back the blankets to glow golden over the mountain.
Only a minute of unexpected light underneath the gray gone in a heartbeat (as are we) yet O! the Glory when we too are luminous.
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It’s strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you. ~John O’Donohue from Anam Cara
We must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it. ~Wendell Berry from The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
How did we come here and how is it we remain?
Even when the wind blows mightily, the waters rise, the earth shakes, the fires rage, the pandemic persists…
~we are here, granted another day to get it right. And will we?
It is strange to be here, marveling at the mystery around us – recognizing we are the ultimate mystery of creation, placed here as its witnesses, worshiping in humility, with reverence and obedience.
We don’t own what we see; we only own our awe.
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There is something mysterious about fog. It whispered to Sandburg as it crept into the harbor
on little cat feet. It settles over Admiralty Inlet, a down comforter of relief on a simmering summer day.
It moves in quickly, a cool mist that settles lightly on our faces and arms as we trudge up the hill
toward home. Then the stillness, how it tamps down sound, reminding us to honor silence and drift
through an inner landscape of ideas, enter into the ethereal magic of another world,
as if we were birds soaring in clouds that have come down to enfold us,
quieting the minor furies we create. ~Lois Parker Edstrom from Glint (MoonPath Press, 2019)
And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment … a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present… ~Wendell Berry from Hannah Coulter
~Lustravit lampade terras~ (He has illumined the world with a lamp) The weather and my mood have little connection. I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or misfortune has little to do with the matter. – Blaise Pascal from “Miscellaneous Writings”
The only thing more frightening than the unknown is the fear that the next moment will be just like the last or perhaps worse.
I tend to forget: the moment just passed can never be retrieved and relived.
Worry and sorrow and angst are more contagious than the latest viral scourge. I mask up and wash my hands of it throughout the day. I wish we could be vaccinated to protect us all from our unnamed fears.
I want to say to myself: Stop and acknowledge this moment in time. Stop wanting to be numb to all discomfort. Stop fearing the next moment. Just stop. Instead, simply be, now and now and now.
I need to know: this moment, foggy or fine, is mine alone, a down comforter of relief~ this moment of weeping and sharing and breath and pulse and light. I shout for joy in it even when sound is muffled in morning fog. It is to be celebrated. I mustn’t hold back.
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Not a color I’ve wanted to wear—too innocently girlish, and I’m not innocent, not a girl. But today the gnarled cherry trees along Alabama Street are decked out like bridesmaids—garlands in their hair, nosegays in their hands—extravagant,
finally the big spring wedding to splurge, and hang the cost. Each really wants to be the bride so she can toss her bouquet until, unaccustomed, the gutters choke with pink confetti that flies up and whirls in the wake of cars going west… ~Luci Shaw from “Pink” in What the Light Was Like
If you stand in an orchard In the middle of Spring and you don’t make a sound you can hear pink sing, a darling, whispery song of a thing. ~Mary O’Neill from Hailstones and Halibut Bones “Pink”
I have always avoided wearing anything pink other than the blush of my windblown cheeks on a brisk April morning. Yet how can I help but listen to pink as its blooms burst open all around me, bubbling with pastel ebullience, whispering me awake in the morning and gently bidding me goodnight.